Robot 6

The 30 Most Important Comics of the Decade, part 1


The past ten years have been significant — indeed some might say phenomenally good — for the comics industry and the medium as a whole. While our economy collapsed, the Earth got hotter, and general chaos and disaster reigned, comics finally started to crawl out of its red-headed stepchild status. People started acknowledging comics as a legitimate form of art. Librarians and teachers started showing an interest in comics, arguing that it could help generate an interest in reading among children. And lots and lots of really great books came out in a variety of genres and styles. Comics, it could be argued, finally came of age.

When thinking about how to look at the past ten years of comics — and also celebrate our one-year anniversary — we wanted to do something different. Rather than try to list just our favorites or grade them on some aesthetic, subjective scale, we thought we’d look at the comics that mattered, the ones that, for better or for worse, changed the industry, changed how people thought about comics, and changed the way comics were read and bought. Here then, is our list of what we feel to be the 30 most important (or if you prefer, influential) comics of the decade. These aren’t necessarily the best comics of the past ten years — in fact you may find a few clunkers — but rather the comics that, for one reason or another, changed things.

Here’s how we put this thing together: I came up with a basic list that I then threw to the rest of the Robot 6 crowd, who proceeded to suggest other titles and question some of mine. Once we had hashed it out and came up with a final list, we divvied up who would talk about what book. The ranking was pretty much done solely by me, so if you’re upset that comic A got ranked lower than comic B, I’m the guy to yell at.

Because our list got so long, we decided to break this into two parts. The first 15 are after the jump. The second part will appear tomorrow around the same time. Be sure to let at us know about whatever books we omitted in the comments section. And enjoy! Here’s to another decade of great comics.

Amazing Spider-Man #583

Amazing Spider-Man #583

30. Amazing Spider Man #583 by Zeb Wells, Todd Nauck and Frank D’Armata (Marvel)
In an age where the old “Pow! Zap! Comics aren’t for kids anymore!” headlines are more a rarity than de rigeur, it’s important to remember that the industry we so love and hold warm to our bosom remains just as venal, short-sighted, given to gimmicks and out to make a quick cash grab as they were ten years ago. Why is this so you ask? Because it will pay off in spades. Despite all the great books and all of the street-corner proselytizing, the vast hoi polloi will still be more interested in buying a comic book because of its potential value as a collectible gee-gaw than an inherently pleasurable read. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most ordered comic of the decade. We’ve come so far. — Chris Mautner

29. The Push Man, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)
Published when the manga boom was hitting its peak, The Push Man was one of the first manga aimed at a literary audience. The book, edited by comics creator Adrian Tomine, created a new model for manga for adults: It was published as a hardcover, larger than the standard manga format, and flipped so the stories read left-to-right. Unmistakably adult in content as well as form, The Push Man appealed to a new audience, sophisticated readers of graphic novels who were more interested in a book’s literary qualities than its country of origin and who were more likely to pick this book up in spite of its being manga than because of it. — Brigid Alverson

28. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (Image)
Back in 2003 a black-and-white horror comic debuted from Image Comics, written by an up-and-coming writer named Robert Kirkman and drawn by Tony Moore. The book may not have been on a lot of people’s radar at the time, but it quickly developed a fan following — a rabid fan following. Charles Aldard eventually replaced Moore on art, and the book spent a good part of the decade actually climbing the sales charts — and the trades haven’t done so bad, either. Kirkman went on to work at Marvel, including launching their own line of zombie comics, but in 2008 left to become a partner within Image, joining several of the originals who launched the company in the 1990s. The book has become a blueprint for success in the creator-owned world and ushered in a zombie trend in comics that still lives on today. — JK Parkin

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Fantastic Four #60

Fantastic Four #60

27. Fantastic Four #60-524 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo (Marvel)
When is a firing not a firing? That’s what happened back in mid-2003, when Bill Jemas decided he wanted to take Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four run (already a critical and fan favorite at that time) in a different editorial direction. It was not a direction that Waid wanted to go in, but he tried to make it work, but not to Jemas’ satisfaction, so Waid was fired (and Wieringo stepped down in solidarity with him). The hows and whys were debated at that time as evidenced by this Joe Q letter to the public, but Waid’s version of events, as detailed more recently in this AICN April 2009 interview now go seemingly unchallenged. Fan outcry to the creators’ departure was loud and immediate. As described by Jonah Weiland (in a June 18, 2003 article): “On our own Marvel Comics CBR Forum, threads about the firing were extremely active and it got so bad over on Newsarama that it overloaded their current server and pretty much took them off line. The majority of the conversation supported Mark Waid, wishing the firing hadn’t happened, with a great many calling for the heads of Messieurs Jemas and Quesada.”

When the news first hit, Waid still had several more issues scripted for the series before his run ended. Marvel editorial eventually realized the vitriolic public outcry was unlikely to die down in support of Waid and Wieringo. Waid and Wieringo were invited back on the book (Waid never having, in essence, left the series, as events timed out), while Jemas’ creative direction shift was seemingly channeled into the Marvel Knights 4 series (written by unknown newcomer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). Back in 2003, Joe Quesada’s initial attempt at damage control included the line “I’ve been busy as hell of late and found my life much more enjoyable these last few months that I’ve avoided Internet message boards”. As evidenced by Quesada’s editorial decision to get Waid and Wieringo return, the impact of the Internet was impossible to ignore in this instance. The way things played out, it was also one of the first times where the creators used the Internet to their advantage, garnering support for their case in essence. While it only occurred six years ago, it’s interesting to see certain aspects–consider the announcement of the creators’ return as documented in this September 25, 2003 article, written by Arune Singh, then CBR staff writer (who now works for Marvel). “On Wieringo’s online web diary, colloquially called a ‘blog,’ [emphasis mine] the artist revealed that he and Waid were back on ‘Fantastic Four.'” The Internet’s impact on comics in this past decade took many different forms, this being just one example. — Tim O’Shea

Flight Vol. 1

Flight Vol. 1

26. Flight Volume 1, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (self-published/Villiard)
It used to be a truism in comics that anthologies don’t sell. The first volume of FLIGHT proved that false by being not only a critical success, but enough of a financial one to give birth to five sequels (so far) and many other, similar projects. It’s doubtful that Indie Spinner Rack’s AWESOME, Image’s POPGUN, 24SEVEN, and OUTLAW TERRITORIES, and Villard’s OUT OF PICTURE and POSTCARDS books (to name several) would’ve happened without FLIGHT’s first proving that it could be done. Even in the superhero world, what was WEDNESDAY COMICS but another high-quality collection of short stories? — Michael May

25. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season Eight by (Dark Horse)
The seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ended with the closing of the Hellmouth and the destruction of Sunnydale, ended in 2003, and it wasn’t until 2007 that we got to see the eighth season. And of course, things were a little different — Xander had an eyepatch, the gang now included an army of Slayers and the cast wasn’t in Sunnydale anymore … and oh yeah, it wasn’t on TV, it was in a comic published by Dark Horse.

And while it wasn’t the first time a TV show had been adapted into a comic, or even the first time Buffy and the gang had appeared in comics, it’s remarkable enough for this list because it’s canon, it’s overseen by Buffy creator Joss Whedon and it showed other folks in Hollywood that hey, even if your show gets canceled or just ends or you have trouble dealing with the suits, there’s another medium out there that gives you more control over your creation. There’s a medium where you can continue to tell your stories long after the lights are turned off or the cast has moved on, and where your audience can fall in love with your story all over again. — JK Parkin

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24. Megatokyo by Fred Gallagher
Megatokyo was not only a pioneering webcomic, it was one of the first successful attempts by an American creator to replicate the style and pacing of manga, and it has been running continuously since 2000, despite irregular updates and filler arcs. The comic was created by Rodney Caston and Fred Gallagher, but the two split in 2002 and Gallagher has been running the show ever since. Although the full archive remains online, the print editions consistently sell well and several have placed high on the graphic novel charts. Megatokyo is one of the few global manga to be published in Japan; excerpts appeared in the anthology Faust in 2008 and the first volume was published by Kodansha in 2009. — Brigid Alverson

30 Days of Night

30 Days of Night

23. 30 Days of Night by Steven Niles and Ben Templesmith (IDW)
Steven Grant recently wrote that “a flood of comics featuring zombies, vampires, werewolves, swamp creatures and Frankenstein analogs have supplanted the superhero as the dominant mainstream figures (in terms of sheer number of titles, if not gross sales).” I don’t know if that’s still true (looking at all the zombie comics still being produced, maybe it is), but it certainly was for most of the past ten years. In thinking about the overall comics industry this decade, I realized that I read a TON of horror comics. And it all started with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, the three-issue mini-series by then unknown creators Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, published by a new, small publisher named IDW. When Sam Raimi paid a million dollars for the movie rights, the comics industry went nuts.

After that, horror comics were everywhere. Entire publishing companies were created just to jump on the bandwagon. Devil’s Due got its start publishing Army of Darkness, Fangoria magazine entered the comics game, and of course IDW continued to publish heavily in that genre. Dark Horse created a horror imprint and – though Invincible owns some of the credit – a large part of Robert Kirkman’s success at Image is due to The Walking Dead. Even Marvel and DC got involved, dusting off old horror concepts like Ghost Rider and Man-Thing, starting the Marvel Zombies series, putting Frankenstein and Klarion the Witch Boy in Seven Soldiers of Victory, and raising the dead to walk around in Blackest Night. In fact, it’s arguable that much of the darkness and graphic violence in modern superhero comics were influenced by the popularity of horror comics. And it all started with vampires in Alaska. — Michael May

22. Girl Genius by Phil and Kaija Foglio (Studio Foglio)
Girl Genius started as a print comic in 2000, but in 2005 creators Phil and Kaija Foglio switched over to a webcomic format, and what happened next defied everyone’s expectations: Sales of the trade editions soared, although the entire story was available online for free. The Foglios found that the webcomic was building their audience but people still wanted to own the print edition. Girl Genius is well regarded as a creative sci-fi comic with a strong female lead, and it has won numerous awards, including the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. — Brigid Alverson

Civil War

Civil War

21. Civil War, by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven (Marvel)
Marvel had test runs with Avengers: Disassembled and House of M, and DC got there first with Infinite Crisis and its lead-ins and tie-ins. But it was Millar & McNiven’s controversial crossover that truly established the line-wide event-comic template that so dominated the superhero genre, and the companies that depend upon it, during the latter half of this decade. In its pages, the fate of the mainstream Marvel Universe was handed to one of superhero comics’ most studiously sensationalistic scribes. (And one with close connections to the decade’s dominant, but very different, writers in the genre: Millar was a former protege of Grant Morrison and a friend and collaborator of Brian Michael Bendis.) The in-story changes he wrought — turning Iron Man into a borderline tyrant and Captain America into an ersatz insurgent, revealing Spider-Man’s secret identity, giving Goliath a cannon-fodder cameo, setting up Cap’s subsequent assassination–set fandom afire and even grabbed some real-world headlines, though some have since been undone. But larger still was Civil War‘s impact on the way event-comic stories were both told and sold. From a storytelling perspective, Millar and McNiven changed company-wide crossovers by basing them on a Cliff’s Notes version of a real-world political issue, in this case “freedom vs. security”; upping the ante for civilian collateral damage; and replacing traditional good guys vs. bad guys conflict with pitting heroes against heroes, or at the very least having each side of the conflict viewed positively by different segments of the public. And on the publishing end, Civil War permitted shipping delays in order to preserve a consistent creative team; expanded its story into countless tie-in story arcs, miniseries, and one-shots; made its storyline the setting for virtually the entire line; and served as the anchor for a chain of line-wide events that has yet to be broken. — Sean T. Collins

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Achewood, Vol. 2

Achewood, Vol. 2

20. Achewood by Chris Onstad (self-published/Dark Horse)
The Comics Journal message board circa 2001 was the most ornery and elitist destination on the entire comics Internet (such as it was at the time). That this of all places was where Chris Onstad’s funny-animal webcomic opus Achewood broke through to much of the comics world says a lot about its sparkling intelligence, immaculate execution, and irresistible appeal: It was the webcomic that made webcomics safe for the smart set. Combining a minimalist, digitally-drawn line, absurdly well-rounded and well-roundedly absurd characters, and a relentless drive to push the boundaries of the traditional gag strip beyond the fourth-panel-punchline format with everything from epic months-long storylines to ancillary in-world blogs and cookbooks “written” by the characters, Achewood is one of the most remarkable webcomics success stories in a decade full of them. To this day, the strip remains the comic most likely to be namedropped after the phrase “The only webcomic I read is…” And when critics debate which is the great comic strip of our time, chances are that for the first time, their selection won’t reside in the funny pages, but at — Sean T. Collins

Safe Area Gorazde

Safe Area Gorazde

19. Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco (Fantagraphics)
Safe Area Gorazde didn’t just break Sacco out of the alt-comix ghetto. It was one of those early books of the 00s that — along with Blankets and Jimmy Corrigan — showed the potential of the medium to those who had previously dismissed it. It’s gritty subject matter — the war in former Yugoslavia and its affect on a small town — drew attention and praise from those outside the comics industry who had the influence and respect to draw the interest of more casual readers. What’s more, it showed that comics could handle not only tough subject matters, but deal with timely, true-life subjects in a hard-hitting, journalistic fashion. Just about every nonfiction book that’s come down the pike since then, from the 9/11 book and Hill and Wang’s subsequent graphic novel line to Michael Crowley and Dan Goldman’s recent coverage of the ’08 campaign, owes it a debt of gratitude. — Chris Mautner

New X-Men

New X-Men

18. New X-Men, by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, et. al. (Marvel)
The yin to Bendis and Daredevil‘s yang. Grant Morrison, the 2000s’ other bald-headed, hugely influential, mega-selling superhero writer, kicked off the decade as the most established star in the Nu-Marvel firmament. Perhaps for that reason was handed the assignment of reinvigorating Marvel’s once-flagship, then-flagging franchise. Visually, his answer to that challenge echoed that of Bryan Singer’s surprise-smash film adaptation, swapping out the garish spandex of the merry mutants’ ’90s togs for sleek, sophisticated, militaristic black leather courtesy of his frequent (and finest) collaborator, Frank Quitely. Narratively, Morrison jettisoned the sprawling crossovers and screaming histrionics of the preceding decade for an extended love letter to Chris Claremont’s golden years with the title. But it was a purloined letter, hidden in plain sight, using Morrison’s trademark attention to bleeding-edge style and “high weirdness” pseudoscience to disguise such Claremont staples as love triangles, Shi’ar space opera, anti-mutant genocide, Xavier Institute intrigue, alternate futures, reality-warping super-mutants, and, of course, master plans by Magneto. Every bit as much a child of the anything-goes Nu-Marvel era as Daredevil, it nevertheless ended up on the outs with the regime’s leader, Bill Jemas, whose never-wavering preference for streamlined storytelling conflicted with Morrison’s more expansive imagination. And like many of Morrison’s projects, it suffered from inconsistent art provided by swapped-out pencilers, though who was really at fault remains up for debate. But even though Morrison and Marvel proved an imperfect match, everything Morrison did here–the bold reinterpretation of superhero icons, the long-term game plan, the mind-bending mystery, the introduction of new concepts and characters, the love-it-or-hate-it flexibility with continuity, the use of superheroes as a vehicle for his observations and philosophies regarding contemporary culture–would reappear as his template for his subsequent work at DC Comics. There he remains one of superhero comics’ most divisive and best selling writers–and there, thanks to work like All Star Superman, he became the genre’s most acclaimed current practitioner. — Sean T. Collins

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Bone: Out From Boneville

Bone: Out From Boneville

17. Bone by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
Yes, Smith’s seminal all-ages fantasy title was largely serialized in pamphlet form in the 1990s. But it wasn’t until the massive all-in-one collection came out that the series really caught on fire, especially with a certain segment of the reading population that had heretofore been a bit adverse to comics — namely children. That fire quickly turned into a raging inferno when children’s book publisher Scholastic (the folks behind Harry Potter, among other titles) started releasing the series in slim, affordable, colorized editions. With Scholastic’s marketing muscle behind it, Bone and Smith suddenly had access to stores and markets that most comics could only dream about, and thus introduced a whole generation of readers — many of whom had never set foot in a comic book store before and still may never — to the art form. It thus seems fair to say that Bone is directly responsible for the current boom in children’s comics that shows no signs of abating. Its success at Scholastic led to the development of their Graphix line, which now publishes acclaimed work like Good Neighbors and Amulet. A number of cartoonists that have come to the fore in the past 10 years were clearly influenced by Smith’s creation. And just about every children’s publisher in North America has, is, or will be attempting to publish a graphic novel of some sort. All thanks to little Fone Bone and his friends. — Chris Mautner

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1

16. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Oni)
Of course. But not just because of the fact it was the biggest bonafide sleeper hit of the decade, or because it was one of the first books to be serialized not in pamphlet form but in a graphic novel format, or because it’s one of the few comics being adapted into a film that actually seems to stand a chance at being halfway decent. More than any of that, the Scott Pilgrim series deserves a place on this list because, as I said in my recent interview with Tom Spurgeon, it marks “the dividing line between the new and upcoming generation of cartoonists and the established folks. It’s a demarcation point, a push pin in the time line, same as Zap Comix was in the ’60s and Love and Rockets was in the ’80s.” I really mean that too. I see Pilgrim as the forefront of the new wave of cartoonists like Brandon Graham and Hope Larson — folks whose influences range beyond the traditional “EC/60s Marvel/Undergrounds” time line to incorporate things like manga, anime and video game references into their work. What’s especially impressive about O’Malley’s series is that it’s able to do so with a seeming effortlessness; it never seems forced or arbitrarily shoved in. I think for many new cartoonists, Scott Pilgrim offers a new way of doing comics, and I think we’ve only just begun to see how truly influential this series will become. — Chris Mautner



Man, I hate the term “phamphlet”. They’re called comics.

Take your pamphlet, roll it up, shove it where the sun don’t shine, and go back to hanging out with the morons in the “Graphic Novel” section of Barnes and Nobel.

Y’know, it’s funny. I was pissed at Waid being fired from FF, and glad to have him back, but I ending up liking RAS’s work on Marvel Knights Four even more than Waid’s.

This is a really constructive discussion. I like the assertion that people who read comic books are idiots, coming from someone who, presumably, reads comics themselves, being on a comic related website. That’s a really interesting place to go.

There are plenty of morons who read comics.
Just because people share the same interest doesn’t mean they share the same IQ, or knowledge about the shared interest.
It’s not a level playing field just cause we both like Superman.
People who use the term pamphlets are idiots.
They’ve been called comic books since the 30’s.
I’m sorry if your first exposure to comics was in trade paperback form, or as a manga volume.
But a comic book is not a floppy, or a pamphlet or a graphic novel.
It’s a comic book.
Learn the term, or go collect baseball cards.
I realize it’s an odd thing to get pissed about.
But nerd rage knows no logic.

I think the Obama Amazing Spider-Man issue is insignificant. Yeah, it got great sales, but it did nothing to further the comic book industry. It was a novelty item that brought people into the stores, people who have never returned.

The term “pamphlet” is offensive, dismissive and self-loathing. Nobody shops at a “pamphlet” store. And it is also inaccurate. Look up the definition of “pamphlet”- it is unbound.

I’m pretty pleased with this first round of nominees. It took guts for Chris Mautner to call out ASM #583 for what it is, both in terms of content and cultural context. As much as we may not like what it says about the comics industry, the publication said it nontheless, and the message came through loud and clear. We shouldn’t ignore it, for reasons I’ll get to later.

I think just as profound of industry trends, and thus deserving of mention, is Millar and Romita’s “Kick-Ass”. That the book’s publishing schedule faltered and had barely gone five installments before being picked up for the big screen (and will barely wrap before the film comes out) is probably the third exclamation point on any commentary you could write regarding Hollywood’s rush to grab comic book properties. Even if Millar and Romita didn’t write the book specifically to sell a story to Hollywood, there’s no arguing that the founding of Radical Entertainment and its line of titles had that purpose expressly in mind. At the beginning of the decade, we thought comics had “arrived” and would finally “get their due” from other media outlets. But before the decade was over I think many in the industry began to wonder if we were experiencing too much of a good thing. I don’t think Chris Nolan can miss with Batman, but when “Super Hero Movie” came out, well, that really kind of exposed us to the possibility that the market was being saturated and some films were putting deadlines before quality. Some people decided not to listen, and what we got for their ignorance was “The Spirit”. Oh, the humanity. Marvel was hit-and-miss with their big properties (Spider Man 3 was dubious, the Punisher and the Hulk batted .500, and the X-related flicks depended on who you asked), and while DC got it right with Batman, Supes bit the big green rock. Still, Ironman and Hellboy redeemed things nicely. The question in the coming years will be “can comics maintain their relevance in Hollywood without such heavy reliance on capes-and-tights?” With Bendis’s “Powers” coming to cable TV and Terry Moore’s “Echo” getting a green light, the future looks bright. Now, if only Orson Scott Card can get someone to take notice of “Ender’s Game” (comic book or novel, I won’t complain).

The Waid/Wieringo run on FF was notable, but I’m not sure that it’s as indicative of the people’s power as we’d like to believe. After all, fandom’s internet outcry still didn’t stop “One More Day” from happening. A big rule for writers is often “don’t give the audience what they want”, the implication being that the audience in fact DOESN’T know what it wants. The consequence of doing so is usually that the audience will decide that it’s not what they really wanted, and that the storyline meant to pander to them actually deprives them of interest. There was a similar take on these kinds of matters with regard to television. When fans inundated CBS with demands to renew “Jericho” for one more season, the execs caved. But ratings for the show never improved and it went off at the end of the second season.

Still and all, there’s the promising example of web comics that make it to print status after building up an online following and demonstrating longevity both in terms of the creative team and marketability. And there we have the crux of the matter, relating back to the message of ASM #583. There’s a reason Joe Q typically ignores online forums– because for as much as people may call him names and flay him for killing Captain America or letting Norman Osborne run the world, his sales figures don’t reflect customer dissatisfaction. If people were really upset about things like that, they would stop yelling at each other on forums, e-mail Marvel directly, and cancel their subscriptions to books that are going to pursue directions to which they object. That’s the real power the community has. The value of the forums is to organize those efforts, but until such efforts can convince the people who make their coin from publishing books, the executives have no incentive to make changes. I’d like to caveat all that by saying it wasn’t my intent to make myself a hypocrite by flaming on Joe Q. He was just the example that was given so that’s what I followed on.

Bone. Man, what can I say? I wish this was rated higher. We really need to elevate the cause of bringing kids back to comics, and cultivating the all-too-tiny genre of comics that serves those kids. “G-Man”, “Scratch 9″, “Brave and The Bold”, “Super Hero Squad”, “Crogan’s Vengeance”– these are all just phenomenal ideas, and really vital to injecting much-needed new blood into the audience. Bringing in a younger demographic will do for comics what “Twilight” did for sci-fi and fantasy by getting more girls interested. If you don’t believe me, you need to read Gerard Jones’s “Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy”. The success of “Star Wars: Clone Wars” demonstrates that there’s a market out there. We need to nurture it. There’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old man reading comics (myself included). There are many, many things wrong with too few 8-year-olds reading them. And, as much as I appreciate manga as a form, I really think American comics could give more to kids than what Japan is right now. I grew up on “knowing is half the battle”, and maybe I’m biased but I tend to believe it’s a better mantra than “gotta catch ‘em all”.

All in all, a fine representative group of some epochal moments in comics’ last decade. Looking foward to seeing the top finishers.

Sean T. Collins

January 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm

“Also, Dude–‘pamphlet’ is not the preferred nomenclature. ‘Floppy-American,’ please.”

Sean T. Collins

January 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm


I think the Obama Amazing Spider-Man issue is insignificant. Yeah, it got great sales, but it did nothing to further the comic book industry. It was a novelty item that brought people into the stores, people who have never returned.

If you read Chris’s write-up, you’ll notice that’s the exact point he’s making.

Oh wait what about brochure…no, no I mean booklet…what about novelet. Let’s not declare holy war on someone for writing an article guys..that leads to all sorts of problems if the news is anything to go by, good thing he’s not a cartoonist, sorry, sorry I meant artist. This probably annoyed you if you stay up at night fretting if Superman is faster than the Flash – doesn’t matter as long as the comic’s good. Anyway Green Lantern’s faster – he can cross galaxies, sort out rebellions on other planets, re-house the refugees and be back home before he’s late for work. Seeing as how it would take hundreds of thousands of years to cross just our own galaxy travelling at light speed, I’d say he’s a contender….I’m going off topic aren’t I?



Either words mean something or they don’t, Jo. If they don’t, you are wasting your life typing a response. I think they do and people that use the term pamphlet, factually incorrectly, are crapping on the folks that make this industry go round!

Floppy Americans is my favorite Bowie album.

Wow, calm down fan boys! If anyone’s being offensive here its Mr Genius here with his derogative remarks!

it is very upsetting to think that there are people out there who don’t share your IQ, Captain Genius.

concerned citizen

January 3, 2010 at 2:16 am


do you really want your key thought about a comic featuring the first african-american president to include the word spades?

It’s got nothing to do with ‘words’ Brandon, it’s to do with names, one name in particular …he called a comic book…a ‘pamphlet’. Thats like calling the Holy Grail a cup to fan boys. He could have called anything else by any other name and no one would have picked up on it. The whole point I was trying to make (badly I’ll confess) was that if we get too serious about comics then we’ll forget why we started reading them in the first place…for enjoyment. Anyways sorry if I offended anyone. You can call me whatever you like.

@Captain Genius: I personally hate the “Nerd Rage” on show here. The term “pamphlet” has been used for years almost exclusively with home-published indie comics. It has been used by many creators and fans over the year. It’s not a derogatory term in the slightest and the crazy reaction to it is not needed.

There is also no need to be down on “graphic novel” either. It’s a reasonably good term to lump OGNs and TPBs together for those who may not be as au fait with our hobby as ourselves. The fanboyish nerd rage you’re expressing about the language used in describing Bone goes completely against the reason it was picked in the first place. Bone is an amazing comics achievement that has brought more kids into our hobby than any other book has in recent years. It’s an inclusive story that kids and adults can enjoy and it’s grows the industry hugely and those kids will ensure a strong future.

Does it really matter what comics are called? I don’t care what anyone calls them as long as they are reading, enjoying them and growing the industry, and I don’t think we should take an elitist stance and slam those who don’t use the correct terms in your eyes. We have an amazing hobby which is just finishing up what is without doubt the best decade it has ever had and I want everyone to find the same enjoyment in it as we do.

At least we’re focusing on the important issues!

Yes, I’m really happy to see that the list has spawned such a fascinating, insightful discussion of so many important issues.

Well, I tried.

I’m waiting for part 2, so I can actually see the list as a whole. I can’t really call out any glaring omissions if it turns out to be the number one book – that would be just silly.

I think things get good and juicy in Part Two, Lemurion. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed! Actually, if you read between the lines of what’s said here, you can maybe guess a few of them…

Jim, I meant to reply to your initial response in part. Thanks for your perspective. Your late 2000s OMD juxtaposition to the Waid FF 2003 situation is an apt one in a sense. Sure there was a strong response (displeasure in some sectors) to OMD, but that was what Marvel wanted. In 2003, Marvel was not controlling the message when Mark Waid announced he’d been fired from FF. The Jemas era courted controversy frequently (Zimmerman’s Rawhide Kid, for example) for the sake of attention, even negative attention was good in its mind. But in this instance, Marvel PR was playing catchup trying to control the message when a respected freelancer got his message out first. Because of the Internet immediacy and the amount of time Marvel had to respond, Waid never missed an issue of FF. Had Waid never went public with the creative change, he would have been off the book, end of story (literally and figuratively). Fan response made Marvel ultimately (no pun intended) change their editorial plans.

As for folks who ended up enjoying Marvel Knights 4 more, good to hear. Upon refelction, I should have just noted; “Waid and Wieringo revealed Kirby to be god in a less campy way than Moore did on Supreme.” I kid.

I want to just add, I wish I could include new work from Waid and Wieringo in our looking forward to 2010 list. Ringo is missed.

though i always dabbled, civil war really made me interested in the whole marvel universe and I now collect most of what they put out. I guess I’m the reason these event comics work. Hell, “onslaught” brought me into the x-men world back in the day, and I ate up every bit of the clone saga. I’m a sucker for the events, though I’d like to think the industry has matured since then, along with my interests. Civil war was a very fine story as far as I’m concerned, and I’m proof that it achieved its goals.

I’m finding it difficult to think of 15 comics more important than the majority of what we have on this list. Excited to see the second part of this feature.


I owe you a beer. Thanks for bringing us back to a discussion of what the original post is about.

I agree with you whole-heartedly and one thing OMD proved, which I didn’t touch on but you have, is one of the emergent rules of publishing in the new e-atmosphere of fandom: NOTHING moves product like a good flame-war. Whether people love it or hate it matters little, what’s important is that they keep talking about it. The term is apt; the “war” fans the flames, which keeps the topic hot and thus acts like free advertising.

Again, I think Joe Q’s remarks were telling, not just about Marvel but company leaders as a whole. They’re not going to care about the message boards until it starts demonstrating it will affect the quarterly statements. In the case of Waid, getting out first was to his advantage, but the decisive point of the operation was when Marvel realized a large portion of the title’s fan base was going to walk out. While that happens frequently on all kinds of titles, it would have been especially disastrous at the time because the FF movie was set to release in about 24 months. Marvel had to keep publishing the title to support the franchise, yet faced a deep cut in existing readership. Putting out a book that nobody reads for two years hurts.

And let’s not forget that the Waid incident wasn’t the first time a creative “worker bee” demonstrated to the queen that he could upset the whole nest. Jemas will never be able to forget 1991, when he simultaneously lost his entire all-star stable and gained a competitor that initially demonstrated itself as a serious contender overnight. The difference in this case, and probably what motivated Jemas’s decisions, was that in 1991 it was a dozen of the industry’s top artists. In 2003, it was a single writer aided by a single artist. It was just two guys! What was the worst that could happen? Who could have guessed that one guy, plus 30,000 miles of fiber-optic cable and a keyboard, could cause as much of a headache as the combined might of McFarlane, Lee, and Liefield? That’s the significance of the “Waid Revolution”, but we have to remember that the power of the people is less in what they post about and more in what they pay for.

Jim, thank you for responding to our piece the first place. My wife thanks you for saving us money on a beer.

In getting the Waid/Wieringo FF run included on the list, I was expected to justify its inclusion (or some form of inclusion). There were a number of suggestions I had for list inclusion that I could not justify. On trying to include Waid/Wieringo’s run, I had a couple of ways to go. I could have recounted Marc Nathan’s effort to market his 2002 Baltimore Comic-Con by including free copies of Waid and Wieringo’s Fantastic Four 60 in the local newspaper, but that would have been a tangential inclusion. (But in a sign of how things change, while vying for mainstream interest by working through newspapers made sense in 2002, with the demise of newspapers in 2009, not so much now [of course, on the other hand, we are the industry that did Wednesday Comics–one of my honorable mentions for 2009])

In broaching the impact of the Internet, I’ve opened the door to counterpoints, some of which you made in the second part post (thanks for that). Webcomics (and webcomics transitioning to print in some instances) are another reflection of Internet’s impact, no doubt.

Jemas did not actually join Marvel until 1993, but I agree the potential loss of two creators is nothing like the hit that Marvel took when Image formed.

Back to FF and Waid’s almost departure, had their run not been such a fan favorite, when he quit no one would have cared and he could not have garnered the groundswell of support.

I appreciate your perspective on this, it’s exactly the discussion we hoped to foster.

Civil War was embarrasing. It barely had a plot and included plenty of ‘Empty Surprises’ that they ran out of ideas by the fifth issue. Everything seemed like a fake out. For example: Thor shows up again and he’s on Tony’s team. Next issue: He’s not Thor, he’s a robot. Man, that is awful. I won’t even bother to mention to the poor writing. I will mention the bad characterization and how it just seems to be ignored from different issues. Bad characterizations of everyone.

People will say ‘It ruined Spider-man’ and guess what? They’re right. He was already heading downward by a writer who apparently got carte blance to do anything he wanted even if never amounted to much a story. Civil War demonstrates how Marvel just introduced stuff and then either just kept on introducing things instead of playing that out, ignore it, or just say ‘I quit’. Spider-man became such an awful character out of this, he was magic and he could come back to life and he doesn’t have a brain in his head and he betrays his friends and he gets the biggest story of all time and that story is ignored! How can anything happen in that comic and how can we care. They made Aunt May sick… AGAIN! Remember Amazing 400 when Aunt May actually died? OH, and Harry died. I think SPider-man died in spirit somewhere around CW 2. WHo wants to read a story that wasn’t going to happen and is immediatly ignored.

I don’t think I read any of the Waid, Weiringo FF issues. I don’t know how a firing/rehiring makes it that good. Not that it matters, they turn Reed Richards into a mad scientist in Civil War… then they ignore it. It never happened. Hey, did anything except Cap dying happen?

Alex — again, it’s not a list of the “best” comics. It’s a list of the most influential comics. Under that criteria, I think Civil War fits.

Travis W. Howard

January 4, 2010 at 7:01 am

Technically, the outcry was a result of the “insider” Felicia.

By threatening to spill even more secrets, and risk many other people’s livelihoods, Felicia was the only one responsible, not the internet for Waid’s return.

Waid wasn’t even aware of the impending dismissal. That’s why Marvel was able to recover without any downtime. If they continued to fight, who knows what kind of stuff Felicia would put out there? Did anyone forget the insane EPIC conspiracy she touted? Anyways, would it be worth it for non-freelance people to lose their jobs over trying to find the leak? IMO, they did the right thing, and got another miniseries out of it, so really, in the end, Marvel won.

Besides, Waid’s FF was hit and miss for me. Some good, but some horrible. A humanized Galactus trying to eat a bowling ball?


My bad on the history. I thought Jemas was in the building as publisher in 1991, but that he hadn’t moved into an editorial capacity. Still and all, he came in at a time when Image was knocking more than a few walls out of the house of ideas.

My point wasn’t to dredge up old wounds for him again, rather to highlight the manner in which a revolution in technology upset the paradigm for his decision-making process. He made his decisions based on the experience that it takes lots of top-talent people to cause a disturbance. What he, and really no one else, couldn’t have imagined was how the internet amplified the voice of a single person. You’re right, Waid’s fan base was crucial to the victory, and it was ammunition that he’d manufactured through stories that appealed to readers. But ammo does you no good without a gun, and whereas the Image crew had to create a gun from scratch (i.e., the company), Waid had the means to deploy the fans at his fingertips.

At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s so much a counterpoint as an addendum. Just like any other weapon, the internet has to be used according to the directions if you want to achieve the desired effect. Waid knew what HE was doing, but there was a bit of a gamble involved regarding how the fans would use it. His bet paid off.

Fostering the discussion is what it’s all about, and thanks for starting it. Hopefully, people have read this and considered it for future reference. The people, as the audience and the customer, really do have the power. They just have to mobilize it correctly. I think doing so will lead us all to make better comics.

My only complaint is the lack of Asterios Polyp on thsi countdown. Easily the best book of the decade. I mean I could make arguements about the wonders of Fables or Y The Last Man, but Asterios was mind blowing

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